In a recent announcement the women’s officers of York University Student Union declared that starting from September they will be having compulsory “consent and respect” talks for all new students at the university and a new “anonymous/non-anonymous reporting system” on campus.
Consent workshops have been instituted on other campuses but a new development in the announcement from York is that theirs will be “enforced by a fine”. We understand that if freshers do not wish to attend these talks there will be a financial penalty for not showing up.
These sorts of workshops have been relatively popular among students’ unions in recent years and have been encouraged by the NUS Women’s Campaign as part of their “I Heart Consent” initiative, with other universities also running schemes like the “Good Lad” initiative which seeks to promote “Positive Masculinity”.
They have proved controversial, however, and last year George Lawlor, a student at Warwick University made national headlines for claiming that mandatory consent classes demonise young men as all being potential rapists. He subsequently experienced a vitriolic backlash from other students, being heckled as a “rapist” in lectures and social situations.